Last year I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. A friend and colleague of mine asked, “Why is the leadership within BIRTHFIT mostly white women?”
I was first defensive and in a bit in shock. I had never been in this situation before. Many of my closest friends would fall into marginalized categories. As a child I grew up in Atlanta in which majority of my grade school was black. Then we moved to a city in Texas in which ¾ of the town was Hispanic. I dated a black guy in college and never thought about race until he brought it up to me. My view was widened and my heart was opened.
As a woman, I can understand leaving my house and being scared. However, as a white woman, I will never be able to understand what being a black man feels like when he gets pulled over by a cop or what being a black woman feels like when she not only has to labor but also advocate for her reproductive rights or her life in a hospital.
This is the world we live in right now. If you are someone that says racism does not exist or all lives matter, then there is likely a lot you are being sheltered from or choosing not to see. The institutions – educational, medicinal, financial- were all established and built through a privileged, white man’s lens. The majority of history books were not written by women and certainly not written by black men and/or women. Many perspectives were overlooked and forgotten about as this country was established. It is time to reflect, heal, and take action. It is time to write our own story.
Back to BIRTHFIT, it took me about a day to really absorb what my dear friend had said to me. I followed up with a call and a question as to what to do. She replied, “You have to take a step back and examine the origins of BIRTHFIT.” So I did.
In the previous three years, we’ve had a rigorous selection process to apply and join BIRTHFIT. The majority of our leaders were coming from Physical Therapy school, Chiropractic school, and the CrossFit world. If you take a step back and view, then you realize these institutions and organizations have a majority white population, and more so a white male population. WTF?! Not ideal, but at least I was getting answers.
The US is shifting, and it’s uncomfortable to many. BIRTHFIT is often a neutral party, giving the choice and the power to the individuals making the decisions. However, when the idea of personal choice and freedom gets taken away or was never there in the first place, that is when we have a big problem.
It has taken over a year to dissect the organization of BIRTHFIT. It has taken me some time to admit that the organization was built on white privilege, and it has taken some time deciding what our action steps will be in 2019.
- Our first action step was to TALK to our leaders at the BIRTHFIT Summit. We discussed changes in BIRTHFIT and the need to take up more space advocating and being a voice in our communities. This was a beautiful, open conversation.
- The next action step was to form a TASK FORCE. We have an amazing group of eight DIVERSE women ready to take action. We are working on first steps as we speak.
- Our third action step at the moment is that WE ARE CHANGING EVERYTHING within the BIRTHFIT structure.
As you can see these three ACTION STEPS were not and are not short and sweet. The reason we were able to have an open conversation is because many of our leaders started doing work on themselves last year. Many of our leaders dropped the desire to “fix” or “save the day”, and they showed up in their communities asking where and how they could be of support.
We are able to form a TASK FORCE with individuals that are just as motivated as me to make a change, and they understand that we have to work as a team to make shift happen. Advocacy is top of their values and/or life objectives, just like it is for me.
Our third current action step is that WE ARE CHANGING EVERYTHING. What this means is that we are currently reflecting on and examining the structures within BIRTHFIT so that we may make adequate changes to operate in alignment with our original three objectives: CONNECTION, EDUCATION, and ADVOCACY.
As BIRTHFIT doubled in size for the past three years, our production of content slowed down and our collective need to show up as advocates within our communities did not show up as a priority. That is not okay, and as the Founder of BIRTHFIT I hold myself personally responsible for this lack of awareness.
Mistakes and failures will happen in life. It’s part of the gig. However, not reflecting, growing or learning is not something we tolerate within the BIRTHFIT culture. Over the next few months we will be doing some internal shifting and clean up. Please sign up for our newsletter to stay in the know as to how you can join the BIRTHFIT movement as a leader and an advocate in your community.
Thank you for trusting me as the leader of this BIRTHFIT Movement!